A Tale of Two Critiques

Donald Trump has obviously become a very polarizing public figure. Every public comment or tweet is subject to disection and dirision. Deserved or not will depend on your politics, but last week I was struck by two critiques: both their similarities and how divergent they were.

 

The first was the photo of Kathy Griffin holding a bloody head that resembled Donald Trump. The photo quickly went viral, then a whirlwind of backlash ensued. (Then there was backlash to the backlash, as seems to frequently be the case on social media.) There were opinions that she’d gone too far; a line had been crossed; and she was inciting violence. It reached a crescendo when Donald himself weighed in:

 

Meanwhile, over on Facebook just after the United States removed itself from the Paris Climate Accord, Ben and Jerry’s Canada posted a link to a post entitled: “6 Reasons Pulling Out of the Paris Climate Agreement Was Totally, Definitely the Right Move“. Ben and Jerry’s has always been a little quirky, but their six point take on climate change was sarcasm at its finest. Not surprising (maybe a bit) it didn’t reach the viral level of the Kathy Griffin photo.

 

Both were a criticism of President Trump. Both were an attempt at humour. I would guess that the only one you heard about last week involved Kathy Griffin. To be heard above the constant noise of social media, do you have to be shocking? Is the fall out worth it? Ms. Griffin basically said it wasn’t for her with loss of employment and friends. How do we move beyond the lowest common denominator to a place where ideas not people can be debated?

 

Until then, I think I’m only going to follow ice cream companies…and maybe their trucks.

What Do You Mean by “Market”?

A week or so ago MacLean’s published an online article “Why Canada’s Seafood Market is so bad, and costs so much” Seafood doesn’t always get a lot of national media attention so I was anxious to see that perspective. I was surprised to discover that the “market” referred to was a literal market and not the global market (demand) for Canadian seafood.

 

The gist of the article is the author’s frustration that the best Canadian seafood is not available in Canada and that the seafood he can source in (I’m assuming) Toronto is not of the same quality. He also talked about how the Chinese market (particularly for lobster) developed out of the economic crisis in 2008 when seafood prices at the wharf reached price lows not seen in several decades.

 

I was left wondering if the quality seafood he longed for had ever been available or if it had become unavailable. The former would indicate a lack of an established market, which would lead me to question if its a lack of connections within in the industry, cost-prohibitive or timing of transportation, or some other barrier. A newly-developed lack of access would to me seem to indicate that there was a lack of established demand at the current market price. Price of seafood caught in Atlantic Canada is set in US dollars (as it is with many Canadian exports.) A lower Canadian dollar means that the price of seafood is higher in Canadian dollars whether it is sold in Canada, the United States, or China. It’s that final fact that caused me to reread the article several times. There seems to be an insinuation that Canadian seafood should be sold in Canada at a Canadian market price regardless of outside factors. I don’t expect that cars built in Ontario or oil from Alberta will be less expensive for me because it’s from Canada, so I’m not sure why we would expect that seafood would be.

 

While I don’t know a lot about marketing, I think there’s a huge opportunity to develop seafood markets (physical and metaphorical) within our country that would benefit both fishermen and consumers. It’s a story with exploring; I hope it’s one we get to tell someday.

Of Politics and Religion

I was feeling pensive, quiet, and sad when I went to church this morning. Maybe it was the past week: the opening of lobster season (which always makes me emotional). Or solemness of Remembrance Day. Or finally being able to take a breath after the last few months. I think it was a bit of all of those things against the backdrop of what is going on the United States: the sadness of the inevitability of protests and divisiveness and the realization that no matter who won the election there were never going to be any winners.

I had also just watched the video of the opening of Saturday Night Live from last night. It was a powerful tribute to Leonard Cohen and Hillary Clinton, particularly the third verse and Kate McKinnon’s watery eyes.

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Today I Wore a Pantsuit

I got up this morning and put on a pantsuit. It’s not something I do everyday, but today I needed to dress up, and, well, a pantsuit just seemed appropriate.

 

I was still reeling in disbelief from what had happened last night in the United States. How had the polls been so wrong?

 

Part of me understood: this disconnect between urban and rural. When government seems so removed from the reality of everyday life. When decisions are made that impact your life by people who if the truth were told consider themselves better than you (or at least smarter). When decisions can be influenced by individuals and corporations with money at the expense of communities or or those with less.

 

I get it. I lived in Atlantic Canada under the Conservative government, where at least part of the Liberals sweep to power here can attributed to that disenfranchisement.

 

Was that really what this was about?

 

Was part of it because Hillary was a woman and there’s part of the population that just can’t accept that a woman could be as (or more) effective than a man as president? Or was it because it was that particular woman…

 

As a disclaimer, I’ve always respected Hillary, both as First Lady and later as a politician in her own right. I’ve always suspected she’s the smartest person in the room but without some of the natural charisma that Bill Clinton or Barrack Obama or Donald Trump seem to possess. Maybe that’s why my socially awkward self has found her relatable.

 

This morning I’m asking the question that many people are asking: how do you reconcile these fractured pieces? Can it even be done? Is it possible for a woman to be elected President of the United States? Can the disconnect between rural and urban; blue collar and white collar be melded? Is a man who is the epitome moneyed influence more capable of all of that than a woman who is the epitome the political establishment?

 

Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll wear my pantsuits when I have to and hope that 4 years from now the lense that we use to view the world will have changed to be more cohesive than it feels this morning.

Fifteen Years Later

When leaving Newfoundland in July, I made a point of looking around the tarmac in Gander while boarding the plane. Dawn was just beginning to break (or at least in felt like it; it was a very early flight). The tarmac was mostly empty, but in my mind I was trying to picture it like this:

 

Operation Yellow Ribbon at CFB Goose Bay.jpg
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40290997

 

The story of hope on a sad day that I chose to remember.

Confession Time

If you’ve been in Canada the past few weeks or months, you know* that this summer is the last tour for the  Tragically Hip under tragic circumstances. Lead singer Gord Downie announced this spring that he has terminal brain cancer.  Tickets for the most sought after concert series in years sold out in minutes.

 

These performances have become a national cultural event. The final concert is tonight in the band’s hometown of Kingston, Onatrio. CBC will air it live on TV, radio, and online. Considering they have the Canadian broadcast rights to the Olympics and are instead choosing to air the Hip concert gives you some idea what a touchstone this is.

 

Through it all, friends have talked and posted excitedly the band; what they’ve meant to them, the sadness that it’s coming to an end; struggles and triumphs when they got tickets; frustration when they couldn’t; and where they’ll be watching.  I’ve smiled and exclaimed excitedly or dismay; I’ve liked the heck out their posts; but it’s been a cover for a dark secret:

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